President Lincoln Preoccupied by New York Patronage

February 12, 1864

A cabinet meeting is held without much serious discussion, according to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles.  Later President Lincoln writes Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase regarding the always-troublesome problem of Republican patronage in New York: “I have felt considerable anxiety concerning the Custom House at New-York.  Mr. Barney has suffered no abatement of my confidence in his honor and integrity; and yet I am convinced that he has ceased to be master of his position. A man by the name of Bailey, [2] whom I am unconscious of ever having seen, or even having heard of, except in this connection, expects to be, and even now assumes to be, Collector de facto, while Mr. Barney remains nominally so. This Mr. Bailey as I understand having been summoned as a witness to testify before a committee of the House of Representatives which purposed investigating the affairs of the New-York Custom-House, took occasion to call on the Chairman in advance, and to endeavor to smother the investigation, saying among other things, that whatever might be developed, the President would take no action, and the committee would thereby be placed unpleasantly. The public interest can not fail to suffer in the hands of this irresponsible and unscrupulous man.  I propose sending Mr. Barney Minister to Portugal, as evidence of my continued confidence in him; and I further propose appointing — Collector of the Customs at New-York. I wrote the draft of this letter two weeks ago, but delayed sending it for a reason which I will state when I see you.

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Published in: on February 12, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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